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MX News Update 2024

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Fresno State pays settlement to its former basketball coach. The amount may surprise you

Former Fresno State basketball coach Justin Hutson will be handsomely rewarded after his contract expired in April as part of a settlement agreement with the university.

Hutson will serve as a special assistant to the athletic department through the end of September and will receive a total of $241,000 for five months, or $48,200 per month, with $22,200 paid by the university and $26,000 from the Athletic Corporation, plus benefits.

Fresno State and Hutson reached a settlement after he filed racial discrimination claims. An independent investigation has shown that these claims are unfounded.

Hutson will be paid nearly as much as women’s basketball coach Jaime White’s annual base salary in 2024-25 ($290,000) and more than baseball coach Ryan Overland ($160,000), softball coach Stacy May-Johnson ($130,000) or any of the Olympic’s other coaches, non-revenue college sports.

The monthly pay is actually higher than what Hutson received in his original five-year contract, signed in 2018. In the first year of that deal, a five-year contract, he received $41,667 per month in base salary, $43,750 per month in the second year. year $45,833 per month in the last three years.

In the settlement, both parties agreed not to pursue any legal action and to release each other from any liabilities, claims, suits, charges, complaints or grievances, according to the agreement.

The Bee obtained the settlement agreement through a public records request. Hutson, who went 92-94 in six seasons, including 12-21 and 11-20 in his final two seasons, signed it on April 4.

Vance Walberg, who was hired to replace Hutson, will be paid $49,548 per month or $595,000 in his first season, then $50,658 per month or $608,000 in his next two seasons and has an option for an additional two years at the discretion of the campus president. for $51,824 per month or $622,000 per season.

It is unclear what exact duties Hutson will be expected to perform as special assistant to the athletic department. According to the settlement agreement, the role is broadly defined. Huston is required to provide assistance and advice to the basketball program regarding recruitment and retention of student-athletes, training and compliance and participate in promotional activities on behalf of the athletic department.

He is eligible to work remotely and will report to interim athletic director Rob Acunto.

The settlement agreement does contain a compensation provision, which would relieve the university and Athletic Corporation of the obligation to provide compensation or health and benefits benefits if Hutson were to work elsewhere before the end of the agreement.

Fresno State declined to comment on the settlement, other than a statement released in March when they parted ways. “On behalf of Fresno State, I would like to thank Coach Hutson for his dedication and commitment as our head basketball coach over the past six seasons,” university President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval said at the time.

“During his tenure, Coach Hutson led the program with integrity and care for his student-athletes. As he transitions from his coaching duties, we thank him for his support of our Bulldog community and appreciate his willingness to continue in an interim advisory role during the transition.”

Fresno State was preparing to fire Hutson at the end of the 2023 basketball season more than a year ago, but the day before the Mountain West Conference Tournament, attorneys representing the Bulldogs’ coach sent a letter to Jiménez-Sandoval stating claimed that Hutson, who is Black, was discriminated against because of his race. Hutson’s immediate supervisor, now former athletic director Terry Tumey, is also black.

Hutson’s accusations were related to the lack of funding for the basketball program, which ranks near the bottom of the conference in terms of operating revenue and near the bottom in terms of operating expenses. Hutson claimed that the low level of support was due to his race, being the only black head coach in the athletic department and working with a staff and team that was predominantly black.

Instead of firing Hutson, the university launched an investigation into his claims, hiring the Oakland-based law firm Oppenheimer Investigations Group. Hutson was allowed to coach the final year of his contract.

His latest salary is not available, but he was paid $813,259 including salary, benefits and bonuses in 2022-23, according to the financial document the athletic department files annually with the NCAA.

If Fresno State had fired Hutson after the 2023 season, it would have owed the basketball coach 80% of his base salary, or about $440,000, according to the terms of the contract.

The Oppenheimer Group found that a preponderance of evidence did not support the finding that race was a factor in the level of support the basketball program received. A summary report on the investigation confirmed that Jiménez-Sandoval and Tumey planned to replace Hutson at the end of the 2023 season, after the conference tournament.

The university has not yet released Oppenheimer’s full report, or the letter from attorneys representing Hutson alleging the discrimination.